The Grand Junction High School girls tennis team put on a clinic Thursday morning at the 4A Region 8 Tournament with every singles player and doubles team making the finals and nearly all winning.
Playing at the Elliott Tennis Center, at No. 1 singles, Grand Junction junior Julianna Campos set the tone for the tournament winning 6-2, 6-1 over Durango High School senior Emma Hackett. Campos had faced Hackett twice this season prior to regionals and won both matches.
"I felt pretty confident, but I knew I couldn't be cocky," Campos said. "I think I worked the point pretty well and I didn't give up too many points, which was better."
Last season Grand Junction was in 5A and Campos had finished second in the regional tournament. She was happy to win the regional title this year, however, she was most excited to travel to the state tournament Pueblo with so many of her teammates.
While the move down from 5A did allow the team to qualify more players, Grand Junction coach Carol Wilder said the move to 4A won't give them an advantage in the state tournament.
"State is going to be just as competitive as it is in 5A and we might not have seen the caliber here at regionals that we'll be seeing at state," Wilder said. "It's going to be quite a jump."
Wilder said she was pleased with how her team played in the tournament at both singles and doubles. The Grand Junction No. 1 doubles team of senior Lauren Lewis and sophomore Kylie Hanks handily defeated Durango juniors Rebecca Bowers and Laura Clark 6-0, 6-1.
"I was nervous because we had lost to Durango in the past and we had beaten them (earlier in the season)," Lewis said. "So it has been kind of back and forth, but it feels good to take home the win."
Neither Lewis nor Hanks have been to a state tournament, but both said they will need to continue to play as a team to find success.
"I think we'll have to do the same things we did (in regionals)," Hanks said. "Just communicate a lot, try different shots and keep them on their toes."
Grand Junction senior Grace Rose won 7-6, 6-3 over Montrose senior Lisa Peterson at in the No. 3 singles finals, and the Tigers No. 2, 3 and 4 doubles teams of Elise Larsen and Callie Witt, Erin Burger and Natalie Hanks, and Elise Junge and Grace Thompson all won regional titles as well. Grand Junction senior Kamryn Peltier finish second at No. 2 singles but still secured her spot in the state tournament as well.
Fruita to send six flights to state tournament
Fruita Monument High School, also playing at Colorado Mesa, finished in second place in the 5A Region 8 Tournament falling to Regis Jesuit High School, but the Wildcats qualified two singles players and four doubles teams for the state tournament.
"It was us versus Regis at every spot," Fruita coach Clint Davis said about the finals. "When you have a school come over from Denver like that you know they're going to be good. We battled them at every spot. One more win and we would have won the region. The girls did awesome. They're peaking at the right time."
Fruita had players in six of the seven final matches with three of those matches coming down to a third set. At No. 3 singles, Fruita junior Cassidy Lastine battled back after losing her first set 6-1 to Regis Elizabeth Dewwy winning the second set 6-0.
"It's hard to lose right away," Lastine said. "It's hard to mentally come back, but I kind of figured out how she played and then in the second set I had more of a game plan."
Lastine ultimately lost in the third set, but said she was happy to have qualified for the state tournament and plans to work hard to prepare.
"I'll probably play every day until (the tournament), probably for like two hours," Lastine said. "I just need to focus on my mental game."
The Class 5A tournament is in Denver.
While the team still has the state tournament ahead of it, Davis said his goals for the team are simple.
"We just want to keep improving," Davis said. "Every practice, every match we want to keep getting better. We have a ton of juniors on this team and so we're just building constantly. Once this year is over the next year starts."
Fruita's No. 2 doubles team of Abby Deeths and Sarah O'Day and its No. 3 doubles team of Kyra Rooks and Laynie Collins each took home regional titles.
Fruita junior Erica Skillicorn finished second at No. 2 singles and qualified for the state tournament. Fruita's No. 1 and 4 doubles teams of Alyssa Morse, Lauren Vance, Jaidynn Maynard and Michelle Buffum also finished second in the tournament to earn state berths.